Saturday, January 12, 2019

Circassians Enter 2019 More United and More Angry at Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 11 – The turn of the year has featured numerous reviews about this or that territorial unit in the Russian Federation rather than about particular nations.  A happy exception to that pattern is Larisa Cherkes’s assessment of the Circassians, a nation Moscow has divided within the country and sought to isolate from its larger co-ethnic community abroad.

            The Kavkazr journalist reports that over the past year, “the Circassian movement was occupied with events connected with conflicts about native languages and also with the efforts of the powers that be to demonstratively exile Circassian repatriants” and to block new arrivals form the Circassian diaspora (

            She reports that many Circassian activists say that “on the one hand, these events united the people, but, on the other, showed the incompetence and unwillingness of the powers that be and pro-government public organization to resolve these painful problems of the Circassian people.”

            Azamat Tsagov of the Khabze Organization in the KBR says that the year was full of developments but unfortunately the International Circassian Organization and Adyge Khase were less activity than they should have been and did not prove to be “useful structures regarding the Circassian people.”

            Astemir Shebzukhov, a Circassian activist, suggests that the past year was another step in the direction of the reformatting of the national movement, one that is involving the inclusion of ever more young people. At the same time, he says, that no one should expect any “grandiose” moves in the year ahead.

             Anzor Ashkhotov, a representative of Circassian young people, says that he believes the movement has made great progress. Martin Kochesokov, head of Khabze, agrees, suggesting that its biggest gains in 2018 involved improved use of communications technologies to link people together. 

            KBR resident Khauti Sheriyev says that many ordinary Circassians are distressed by the lack of real activity among existing organizations and are trying to find their own way forward. He adds that Circassians as a whole and not just the leaders of these organizations are to blame for the fact that more was not achieved last year.

            And Kabardinian activist Andzor Akhokov says that 2018 was a relatively good year but of course not as dramatic in its consequences as 2014 when Circassian protests about the Sochi Olympics brought the attention of the entire world to the plight of their nation, a victim of a Russian genocide in 1864 and still divided by Russian policies. 

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